He's played for college football teams in the United States as well as for the University of Calgary Dinos, but for Willy Snypes (Willie Williams) the very first championship ring is much closer to home, and very near his heart. 

Williams, who is better known as Snypes, an assistant coach with the George McDougall Mustangs Football team shared that he recently received his Rockyview Championship ring, the first championship ring to adorn his finger. The ring is not only quite dazzling in its looks, but also a potent reminder of the victory the local football team had last fall in their winnng of the Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA) championship against the Cochrane Cobras.   

While the beginning of the football season did not seem to foretell a championship ring, with losses, sickness and injuries on the roster, Snypes said that with the many pep talks the coaching staff gave the football players, there was always one common thread. 

"We always put it into perspective and told the players, 'If tomorrow was your last game, what would you do? Would you step up and be that person and take initiative and carry your team?'"  

The team certainly answered those questions during the championship game as they won 38-20 

"It took us utilizing everybody on our bench, from the coaches to the players, from practices to losses, to realize what we had to do; to realize that we had an opportunity to accomplish," he said. "When we stepped foot on that field against Cochrane it was just no holds barred. Once the gate was open, everybody went and we played 110 per cent until that last quarter." 

However, the championship ring is but one award that Snypes can now proudly display in his trophy case. He also received the 2022 Forever a Mustang award for his determined coaching and tireless volunteering for the team. Snypes, who has no shortage of activities as he is also a Calgary firefighter, began to coach Airdrie football a decade or so ago when he started with the Bantam teams. From there, he would continue to inspire young athletes of all levels both on and off the field. He has been with the Mustangs since approximately 2014. 

"The job I sign up for as coach when it comes to these young athletes is to get them to love the game the way I love the game. So, when I come into the game, I come in with passion. I try to teach them everything I've learned along the way; to try to help fuel them to be that much hungrier as well." 

Some years ago, Snypes was observing football practice as he was driving down Yankee Boulevard in the city. He kept wondering if he should offer to help, considering football was a passion for him. Sometime later he would see that there was football registration for the Airdrie Raiders. He emailed his football resume, as he called it, to the coaches, and from there he became a staple of the Airdrie football scene. Though he admitted the beginnings were challenging when he began coaching all those years ago, he knows full well that what he has taught Airdrie's young football players has struck a chord with them.  

"Here we are in 2023 and most of them are still doing the warmups I taught them 10 years ago," Snypes said. "When I talk to kids on the field: it's all because I want to see them do better not just on the field, but off the field. [I want them] to take the skills I am teaching them on the field and use that as their own."  

But his fervour and love for football has also been fostered and nurtured by his own coaches that he interacted with during his career. Williams said that one of the things a coach from his past told him, and something that has stayed with him till this day, is that the sport is what one makes of it. 

"You can work hard today and not be rewarded tomorrow; because you work hard today and tomorrow. Again, maybe you won't be rewarded today after that. But [if you] keep on being persistent, that reward will come maybe not in the form you would like it to, but that reward will come in your favour." 

Snypes added that if he took impart one more piece of advice to youth - both on and off the field, he said it would be a piece of advice one coach once told him. 

"In life or sport, you're going to have a couple of rough starts. But no one remembers how you start. It’s all about how you finish and what you do in between to get the job done." 

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